Inside linebacker (4)
Travin Howard, Troy Reeder, Kenny Young, Ernest Jones
One of the reality shifts from 2020 to the 2021 season appears to be the level of play to expect from the inside linebacker position. That is a huge bonus if true because solid play from this group could ensure that the defense is once more a dominant force to be reckoned with in the NFL.
A successful strategy for countering the Rams no-deep-passes, little-time-to-throw defensive attack surfaced at the hands of the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round of the 2020 NFL Playoffs. But attacking the middle of the football field with runs and passes intended to keep the inside linebackers befuddled, the Packers effectively carved up the Rams like the delicatessen slices up a pound of lunch meat, one thin slice at a time.
But even the Rams backups showed resolve in the preseason and shut down those short targeted plays. While the team may not have Christian Rozeboom to make an amazing interception, the defense did generate very similar types of disruptive plays and even some turnovers throughout training camp.
I believe that drafting Ernest Jones early sent a message to the inside linebackers as a whole. Unlike 2020, when the team entered the season with just three healthy players, which dropped down to just one healthy player at times, this year the message was loud and clear. New defensive coordinator Raheem Morris wants very good play from the heart of his defense and is committed to investing in the players who can deliver at that level.